“Not without a parent,” the woman behind the counter shook her head. She wore a forest-green tanktop. Her arms and chest were covered in colorful tattoos. “Sorry.” Luna sighed. The pink-haired teenager expected as much; she did not know what drove her to enter the tattoo shop, to begin with. Something about the name, ‘Mundo’s Tattoos’ piqued a curiosity she did not know she had. She ignored the feeling successfully for a week while she created her new life. It wasn’t difficult; she’d had enough practice over the years. But now she was more or less settled. On the way home from her first day at her fast-food job she found herself walking by the shop and gave in.
“Yeah, thanks anyway,” Luna said. She turned to walk out of the shop as a boulder of a man walked out of the back. He was short, round and bald with leathery tan skin.
“Wait!” he shouted after the teenage girl leaving his shop. Luna stopped at the door and turned around. He gave the woman behind the counter a disappointed shake of his head as he walked past her to the girl. “Name’s Mundo, I own this shop. What did you need?” he asked. Luna shrugged.
“Nothing without a parent,” she said. She meant to give a smart-ass reply but it came out sounding disappointed. Mundo shook his head and closed the door she was holding open, half-way out. He pulled a string attached to the neon-green “OPEN” sign and it went dark. He smiled at Luna.
“And when was the last time you saw them?” he asked. His round dark brown eyes seemed to soften as he asked.
“Wh- what?” Luna asked. Her mind was trying to tell her to run. This giant man was essentially blocking the door and he seemed to know something about her. But she didn’t listen. Deep down, somehow she felt she could trust him.
“Damnit, I’m sorry,” the woman said from behind the counter. “I should’ve asked. She looks so young I didn’t even think about it.” Mundo waved at her dismissively while keeping his eyes on Luna.
“C’ mon in,” Mundo said. He led her to a chair behind the counter. “Whatever you want; on the house.”
“Why?” Luna asked. She made herself comfortable on the chair though she had no idea what she wanted. Mundo sat down next to her and shrugged.
“I can’t tell how old you are exactly, but I know you’re over a hundred and fifty,” he said. “It’s kind of silly to turn you away if you’re older than me,” he chuckled. Luna was taken aback for a moment.
“How’d you know?” she asked with wide eyes. Mundo grinned, his dark eyes twinkled.
“You’re going to get a moon with the number 23 on it, right?” he asked. Luna nodded when she realized that was exactly what she wanted, though she did not know that a few seconds ago. “23 is the number of La Luna, a Unique Soul,” he said as he began arranging his tray. He slipped on a pair of blue latex gloves. He leaned forward and looked down to show Luna the top of his bald head. “I’m El Mundo, number 37.” The Earth was tattooed on his head with the number 37 in the center decorated with flowers. Luna nodded as if she understood; she didn’t.
“What does that mean?” she asked.
“For me, it means I can see what you are. What she is,” he used his thumb to point at the green-haired woman that initially denied her service. She leaned on Mundo and pointed at a tattoo. It was a frog in a top hat that seemed to be sitting on her collarbone. The number 54 was printed on the top hat.
“#54, La Rana,” she said.
“Each Unique has different abilities. Mine lets me see you and I know things. You won’t age if you’re not in your home universe. And you can copy abilities but we’ll get to that later.”
“My home… universe?” Luna asked. Mundo nodded.
“Each universe has a certain frequency. Everyone in that universe vibrates at the same frequency and I can see that you don’t vibrate at the same frequency we do.” He stopped fiddling with his tray; he was done preparing. But he did not make any moves to start until he was sure Luna was ready.
A forgotten memory rushed to the forefront of Luna’s mind. She remembered feeling abandoned and lost. She remembered wishing her parents would find her but they never did; she learned how to survive on her own and flourished.
“Can I get home?” she asked with a soft, dry voice. Mundo smiled and nodded.
“Yeah, these days it’s as easy as calling a taxi if you know the right people,” he said. His smile grew to an ear to ear grin. “I’m the right people.” Luna nodded.
“Thank you,” she said. Her tone was stiff, almost formal. “I’m ready,” she presented her right wrist to Mundo.
“No problem. Your ride will be here by the time we’re done,” Mundo said and nodded at his assistant. She nodded and disappeared to the back room. Mundo did not notice Luna’s change in demeanor. She was angry again like she hadn’t been in centuries. She knew her parents were likely dead, but she would find whatever descendants she could and get some answers.